One of the differences between teachers that consistently use technology in their classrooms and those that donâ€™t is the reaction when things donâ€™t go smoothly. Many teachers at my school and that Iâ€™ve had in trainings give up after something doesnâ€™t work right now. Theyâ€™ve decided to try something theyâ€™ve never done before â€“ they start setting up the equipment, it doesnâ€™t work as they intended, they call me or someone else to make it work, you try one thing (once they hadnâ€™t plugged in the power cord on the hub â€“ it was working within 1 minute of me walking in the room and they were done, forget it) â€“ and often their reaction is that, â€œWell I wonâ€™t be doing this again until it works every time â€“ and maybe not even then. I just donâ€™t have time to have to tweak things or problem solve or learn more and the fact that this didnâ€™t work right now really puts me off tech.â€Â Its not just me either, other teachers that use tech have the same story.
Part of the issue is that they want to use tech and have a really cool lesson, but spend next to zero time prepping the tech part of the lesson â€“ they just want it to happen. We have had a wireless iBook lab at my school for 6 years and except myself and maybe 2 teachers â€“ almost no one else uses it. Iâ€™ve done numerous trainings on using the lab, and I always stress how if you are going to use it with your class you probably want to plan a lesson from me to refresh your memory on its use and to hook up the wireless hub in your classroom (about 20 minutes). Also if it is the first time you have used the lab with your class you probably want to do a 30 minute lesson where you just teach the students how to take the computers out of the cart, turn them on, how to treat them, get on the internet and do a quick search and shut them down and put them away. Iâ€™ve had teachers right there say â€“ â€œoh, never mind then, I just wanted my kids to do some quick research on polar bears â€“ I was hoping to be done in 20 to 30 minutes tops.â€
The thing that kills me is that these same teachers will come in on a Saturday and spend 4 hours copying and cutting stuff out and stapling. When we have students use any manipulative we have found that the first time you use it you probably want to give the students time to just play and get that somewhat out of their system â€“ things usually go more smoothly then. But somehow that is only a good idea with inter-locking cubes not technology. Has anyone else out there found this to be true? I have my own thoughts on this, but Iâ€™d like to hear from others. Is this part of the culture that holds so many back from using tech and project based learning? What kinds of experiences have you had?
Learning is messy!